For its annual Top Doctors package, Columbus Monthly explores the leadership shakeup occurring in Central Ohio's hospital systems, one of the most important economic sectors in the city.

Hospitals are the unstoppable machines of the Columbus economy. Over the past 20 years, they’ve proliferated, expanded, gained prestige, grown more profitable, spawned startups, conducted increasingly ambitious research and become drivers of community ambition. They have a $4.22 billion annual economic impact in Columbus, according to the Ohio Hospital Association, and that figure should continue to rise as the region’s medical construction boom continues unabated. Recent and current Central Ohio hospital expansion projects amount to more than $3 billion, according to Columbus 2020, the regional economic development agency.

Needless to say, the people in charge of Columbus’ four major hospital systems—OhioHealth, Mount Carmel Health System, Nationwide Children’s Hospital and Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center—play an increasingly critical role in the life of the city. Which makes the unprecedented hospital leadership transition that occurred this summer a big deal. New executives are running the show at three systems: Dr. Harold “Hal” Paz at Ohio State, Dr. Stephen Markovich at OhioHealth and Tim Robinson at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, all of whom started during a two-week period beginning in mid-June. What’s more, the fourth CEO, Ed Lamb of Mount Carmel, announced his July 25 resignation following the conclusion of an internal probe into a doctor accused of killing 25 patients. Such a substantial, simultaneous shift raises questions about what lies ahead for each system and for the local industry as a whole.

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